March 20, 2024

USM Symphony Orchestra Announces New Music Director

Darkhorse Press

Dr. Gregory Wolynec

Following an exhaustive international search, The University of Southern Mississippi has chosen Dr. Gregory Wolynec as the Director of Orchestral Activities.

Wolynec will conduct the famed Symphony Orchestra as it begins its 105th season and will oversee the graduate program in orchestral conducting. He will take to the podium vacated by Dr. Michael Miles, who is retiring after more than 26 years of service to Southern Miss.

“The USM Symphony Orchestra is a cultural gem for The University of Southern Mississippi and the Hattiesburg Community,” said Dr. Colin McKenzie. “Additionally, its student members are critical to many of our regional orchestras across the South.

Added McKenzie, “Particular care was taken to select a candidate of the highest caliber to shepherd our students into their second century of outstanding accomplishments. We are thrilled to have found dynamic leadership and musicianship in Dr. Wolynec and look forward to all that he will contribute to the orchestra, to the School of Music, and to the greater Hattiesburg and Mississippi communities.”

A committed educator, Wolynec has taught at all levels of public school and collegiate education. Students from his graduate conducting program at APSU have gained admission into some of the country’s most prestigious doctoral programs and hold positions in the professional, collegiate and public-school ranks.

APSU ensembles under his direction have performed at national, regional and state sponsored events. Wolynec has also continued to work with younger musicians as an all-state and all-region conductor. He frequently serves as a clinician in the public schools and at professional development conferences.

Wolynec holds a BM in Music Education and Clarinet Performance from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music as well as the MM and DMA in Instrumental Conducting from Michigan State University. He was a recipient of a Fulbright Grant to Prague, Czech Republic, where he studied conducting at the Prague Conservatory. There he also worked with the Karlovy Vary Symphony.

“I am beyond excited to be joining the distinguished faculty of The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Music,” said Wolynec. “I had been aware of the reputation of this program and the orchestra for years and was delighted to be invited to campus for an interview. I felt an immediate connection with the faculty and students alike. I am so looking forward to the work we can do together.”

Wolynec also serves as the Music Director of Middle Tennessee’s acclaimed Gateway Chamber Orchestra (GCO), which he co-founded in 2008. From 2003 to 2024, Wolynec served as Director of Instrumental Ensembles at Austin Peay State University (APSU) in Clarksville, Tenn., where he oversaw the graduate program in Instrumental Conducting, directed the Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, and conducted Opera Theatre performances.

Over the past 15 years with the GCO, Wolynec has sought to revolutionize the potential of the 21st century orchestra. A unique programming philosophy for concerts and recordings gained national attention with GCO Producer Blanton Alspaugh receiving two Grammy Award nominations and a win as “Classical Producer of the Year” for the recordings “Wind Serenades and Chamber Symphonies.”

Multi-media children’s programming garnered support from the National Endowment for the Arts for innovative audience engagement. Pandemic era projects included the “Magical Music & Timeless Tales” video series that paired GCO musicians with area public school teachers to create valuable streaming content for young minds.

Virtual programming from this time included YouTube’s “Beethoven @250: Humanity in 2020” concert as well as the second installment of “America’s Haydn Festival” in May of 2021. The latter was a four-concert event featuring both masterwork and family concerts by the GCO along with programs by the St. Lawrence String Quartet and pianist Henry Kramer. Bill McGlaughlin served as the host for the four programs.

In 2021, Wolynec worked with composer Cristina Spinei to successfully launch the first NFT of a musical work commissioned by an American orchestra. This was profiled on NPR’s “Marketplace Money.” A multi-year project to create a new “Nutcracker” by pairing the music of Tchaikovsky, Duke Ellington and Vinico Meza with a new libretto is ongoing in collaboration with Nashville Ballet.

In 2022, Wolynec conducted the GCO in the first performances of Osvaldo Golijov’s groundbreaking “La Pasión según San Marcos” without the use of the original core ensemble. This massive work blends genres and requires the use of a specially trained choir, which Wolynec assembled with community members and APSU students. “Music City Reviews” called the event “the ticket of the year.” These performances were repeated in 2023 when they were recorded in audio, video and virtual reality formats through the generous support of Google for upcoming release during 2024.

Before his retirement, Dr. Miles will lead the Symphony Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and “Songs of the Wayfarer” in a program entitled “The Titan” on Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium. Tickets are available at

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